A Night at the Manor

I was artist in residence at Sulgrave Manor in Northamptonshire and was given privileged access to the house. Sulgrave is a modest Tudor manor with later alterations and was the ancestral home of George Washington. Under it’s current curation, the manor places a great emphasis on recreating Tudor living conditions so, given my interest in painting darkness, it was obvious to me I should explore what the night was back then, centuries before electricity, when the darkness couldn’t be banished by a flick of a switch or a strike of a match. I was struck that when things went bump in the night (or scratched or howled or creaked) there was no fast and easy way to see what they were and that ultimately candles would have made any fear worse not better because all they do is make shadows deeper and more animated. It was very difficult to behave myself and not put monsters into the shadows but I did play it straight; anything you see in the shadows is from your own imagination.